New location-based contact tracing app is unveiled
A robust contact tracing system is essential for people to return to work and for children to get back to schools as safely as possible, minimising the spread of infection.
Contact tracing involves identifying, testing and, if the result is positive, isolating people who have been exposed to COVID-19 to prevent further transmission. When systematically applied, contact tracing can break the chains of transmission of the virus, .
There are currently two main methods of contact tracing: manual tracing and via a mobile app. , conducted by volunteers, it has limitations, which include incorrectly recalling contact events, and the time taken to notify contacts which can delay quarantine, as it’s a time-consuming process.
Tracing via a mobile app, developed by Google and Apple, uses Bluetooth technology to log contacts between people who are running compatible apps on their phones. This is faster as notifications are instantaneous, but there are issues around uptake and concerns around data privacy.
Now software developer Everbridge is introducing new location-based technology that uses existing location data to identify individuals entering transmission hotspots or coming into close proximity with an infected patient. Location-based tracing doesn’t require any action on the part of users to operate - there’s no requirement for individuals to register at the places they visit or download a mobile app.
The software can also supplement or complement existing manual contact tracing efforts to improve accuracy.
Everbridge provides solutions in critical event management, and claims this is the industry’s only contact tracing solution that combines an existing mobile app for wellness checks and self-reporting, combined with existing integrations of company systems to produce a more complete set of data.
“As the global leader in critical event management to help mitigate COVID-19, Everbridge offers the industry’s most comprehensive path for organizations to help people return to work and other public spaces,” said Imad Mouline, Chief Technology Officer at Everbridge.
“With the benefit of thousands of trusted sources of data and our advanced IoT capabilities, we are in a unique position to help organizations automate the coronavirus exposure tracking process, bringing people back safely and helping to recover their operations.”
Everbridge contact tracing uses data from physical badge access control systems, wifi hot spots, calendar systems, travel itineraries, visitor management, and thermal cameras to determine who may have been exposed to an individual with COVID-19. Bluetooth Low Energy proximity data adds information on has been within close proximity, and special needs registries help protect the most vulnerable people by highlighting if they have been near an infection.
Information based on 22,000 data sources across 175 countries tracks everything from virus hotspots (including a dedicated coronavirus data feed) and travel restrictions to quarantines and states of emergency in order to determine if people are near areas of heightened risk.
Meanwhile, its crisis management capabilities automate notifications to alert people potentially at risk, and the system has the capacity to reach over 550 million people in more than 200 countries and territories.
Zoom enters the healthcare market - a timeline
Since the pandemic began Zoom has become an integral part of daily life for people working from home, as well as a vital tool for families and friends to communicate. However it's also been eyeing up the healthcare space since 2017, and following the boom in telehealth the company has been rolling out additional services. Here we chart Zoom's move into healthcare.
2011 - 2013
Zoom is founded in San Jose, California, by Eric Yuan, formerly of Cisco. He got the idea to create a video calling platform from his visits to his girlfriend while he was a student, which would take 10 hours by train.
A beta version is released in 2012, which can host up to 15 participants. In 2013 this rises to 25. By mid-2013, Zoom has 1 million users.
2014 - 2017
Zoom attracts investors, including Sequoia Capital, Emergence and Horizon Ventures. By January 2017, Zoom has a series D funding worth $100 million.
2017 - 2019
Zoom for Telehealth launches, including an integration with EHR system Epic. It has cloud-based video, audio, and content sharing features, a "waiting room" for patients, and can easily be integrated into healthcare provider's workflows.
In 2019 Zoom goes public, with its IPO rising 72% in one day.
As a result of the pandemic, Zoom gains 2.2 million new users, more than in the whole of 2019. On the 23rd of March alone - the day the UK lockdown was announced - the platform was downloaded 2.13 million times around the world.
Share prices rise to around $150, and founder and chief executive Eric Yuan becomes one of the world's richest people, with an estimated net worth of $7.9 billion.
Early security issues are addressed by encrypting data with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). By now the the platform allows 99 people to be on a call simultaneously
New features launch, including Zoom Home and Zoom for Chats. Throughout the year the platform is used to replace most kinds of real life events: work meetings, online classrooms, church services and social events.
Renamed Zoom for Healthcare, users can share secured video, audio, and content through desktops, mobile phones, and conference devices. As well as Epic, it can be integrated with Strmr, IntakeQ, and Practice Better.
It can also be used with diagnostic cameras and other point-of-care devices, including digital stethoscopes.
In an interview with Korea Biomedical Review, Zoom Global Healthcare Lead Ron Emerson said: "Our service is not simply a virtual care and telemedicine platform but a multi-purpose platform that can satisfy the needs of healthcare institutions."
"It can be used for administrative tasks, including telemedicine, medical team meetings, recruitment, medical education, employee training, and disease prevention. Analysing electronic records managed by Zoom could provide meaningful insights into patient care."
Phoenix Children's Hospital, Belfast's Hospital Services Limited, Butler Health Services and the global Project ECHO are among Zoom for Healthcare's current customers.